She Laughed
Ron Morelli

Flash Fiction Winner

S he laughed, she cried, she allowed herself a sigh, and then, she pinched the salt between her teeth, suckled the lemon and the lime, allowed her fingertips to brush up against the frosted glass, brought it all back, and dredged that wretched wintry past.

She saw the dancers on the stage, but feigned indifference. She looked above the doors at the sign which read on a board shaped like a loaf of bread: "Welcome, Stranger" and she felt just that: welcomed and strange. Across the floor, a drift and a puff of pussy willow silk glimpsed from the corner of her eye as the little feathered girl sang the chorus all the boys loved . . . which she loved just as much.

Her heart swelled within the boundaries of her ribs, her skin swelled within the boundaries of her corset, and she felt constricted. The lemon and the lime flushed pretty-pretty on her teeth; she gave her nose a pinch so the tears could flow, and the boys in the back gave a shout as the feathered girl bowed: head sloped and nose on top high; emerald tiny eyes. She flashed a slit of a smile across red rose lips, sharp little teeth; and a slackened heartbeat fell within her chest; that dreadful thump, thump, bump.

And she felt just that: Welcomed, and strange at 19:05.

First published: February 2001